RICHLAND -- A Richland chiropractor is turning his back on his profession after 27 years to become an English professor and writer.
George Such's aching thumb, a result of years of manually adjusting his clients' sore muscles and joints, made him begin to think about a midlife career change almost seven years ago.
His love of reading and writing turned out to be his instrument of adjustment. Literature nourished him and poetry gave him a voice while he earned an undergraduate degree in English and continued to work as a chiropractor.
Such, 52, will head to graduate school at Western Washington University in Bellingham after he closes his practice July 22. He said he's had a contented life as a chiropractor, but he's happy at the new twist his life is taking.
"It's a freeing experience. It's like starting a new life."
And life is about learning, he said. He loves to hike and travel, and to understand the diversity of the human thought process and expression.
He also wants to share his feelings and ideas with others in a tangible form through poetry or essays. Dozens of his poems have been published, and Such, who admires the work of contemporary American poet Joseph Stroud, is working on a collection, "The Eyes Saw Themselves."
"I write to see what happens, what form will develop, where the image and language will lead me," he said.
Such considers teaching an extension of that creative process. It helps create your own frame of reference when you try to help people understand something, he said.
He has taught Bible classes, community education classes and health care courses, and he looks forward to teaching literature. He will be a teaching assistant as part of his fully funded graduate studies program.
Writings of Conrad, Nabokov, Rushdie, Garcia and many others in exile inspire Such. He uses his travel experiences, particularly through Asia and Europe, to bring a similar bicultural feel to his vision.
Unencumbered with any family responsibility, Such said he is looking at a world of infinite possibilities ahead. His four children are grown, and his family and his patients are happy for him, he said.
"I have always tried to create something that feels right," Such said.
As a chiropractor, he believed it wasn't always necessary to take X-rays and that insurance companies weren't the best solution to provide health care. So in 1998, he sold his X-ray machine and became a cash-only practice run without help from any employees. Such said he didn't mind losing a third of his patients.
Over the past five years, he has downsized his practice to devote more time to other pursuits. As he looks forward to his new adventure, Such said, he's breathing easy that his friend and fellow chiropractor Patricia Swope will be caring for his former patients.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com